Going Back to China, China, China… To Get My $$ And The Great Wall Marathon

Living in China for years and being paid in RMB can be a pain. It is even more of a pain when you move out of China and want to take money with you. I am not talking thousands here (well in RMB I am) but in USD it is not ridiculous by any means.

To get what I earned those last few months,  I had to return to China. Good thing we did something crazy last year and signed up for the Great Wall Marathon I have done nothing sporty in the 4.5 years I been in China but hey this is a good idea! I am full of them. The 7th hardest marathon in the world, well at least 1/2 of it.  The timing worked well as the tax documents, one of the 5 pieces of paper I need to produce to even be considered to take my money out take 3 months to get to you. I left in January so they were ready in April. Perfect timing. The Marathon was meant to be!

It took me 2 days to get my money out. The Chinese Banks don’t like you to take money out of China so will tell you everything to prevent you from taking it out. I think they try to wear you down and hope you will just give up. I had to do this for 2 days, play their games and finally I got my money and ran! Ran the Great Wall Marathon! Well more of a hike/run/walk of the Great Wall, farms, construction, and neighboring village.  It was awesome!

The Adventure to Beijing

After a 4 hour flight delay to Beijing, how I miss traveling in China. When the airlines and airspace is owned by the same entity, you are bound for ridiculousness. Glad to see it hasn’t improved any since I left. We finally made it to Beijing and had a 3 hour car ride to the race site, in the dark now because of the flight delay, driving along a windy, mountain road. It was nice to open our eyes when the car finally stopped at the hotel.


Maybe should have kept our eyes closed. It looked like something out of a horror move, a little Chinese Horror Story Asylum like, on the grounds it even had what I swear was an incinerator. It could have also been a brothel. They had some interesting art in the room.

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It had a bed which in some places are called a board and my favorite the bathroom where you can shower and use the toilet all in one. I never like this as once you shower, any time you go into the bathroom you can either fall down, because the tile is all wet or you just make a mess because the floor is wet. How many people just give up trying to use the toilet and just go? Hmm… I didn’t bring shower shoes so don’t want to think about that.


Only 1 night and not even a night because it is that late at this point and COLD. It is Cold up on the Great Wall and daylight couldn’t come fast enough.


Isn’t that lovely.. isn’t that an incinerator?


The sign of the place we are staying at during the day


The front


Day time view of the hotel


The incinerator

Race Start Time 8AM!

One thing the race has going for it, in addition to being a clear day in Beijing with a blue sky is that the race start is 8am. Seriously, 8am none of this 5am get in your corral BS at other races, 8am. Although I was ready to go at 5am, up and out of the hotel. The hotel was also a 3 minute walk from the start. The price you pay to be close.


There it is the Great Wall!

What Is That Line?

OK the hotel is not that bad after all because in 3 minutes I can be back in my room and use the bathroom and not have to wait in this line! That is a long wait for a squatter!


The Band Played Christmas Music!

There was a band providing pre-race entertainment and motivation with Christmas tunes. OMG! I just loved it. Nothing gets you psyched to run a marathon like Rudolph and Jingle Bells. YESS! This is the greatest race ever!


The Start of the Race or As I Call It, a Chipped/Timed Hike

This is not a typical marathon/race. It is what I a chipped/timed hike. It is not about time at all, it is about finishing. We had 8 hours to finish before they cut you off. They say what your normal time is for a race, double it. I am proud to say I was less than my doubled time!


Everyone starts (half and full) by heading up, up a road and onto the Wall. You really can’t start running at this point unless you want to hurt or take yourself out early. So we walked and enjoyed the blue sky and worked on my 1st sunburn in 4.5 years of living in China. I didn’t think to put sunscreen on, why would it have been sunny? It is China?!? I was thinking doing this much breathing of polluted air was the equivalent of smoking 64 packs of cigarettes in one day and shorten my life span even more.   Silly me. Always have sunscreen.


The Wall- 5,164 Steps Into History  

Very soon, you arrive at the wall. You really can’t run it, there are a lot of steps and stairs. It is also pretty slick and dangerous in some spots.


That’s my call me shaka, presenting the Aloha State now, wearing my flowers


When you wonder which way to go on the wall, follow the directions of the volunteers, better to follow the signs with arrows that match your bib.


Volunteers working hard!

His hand gestures were helpful!

His hand gestures were helpful!

Hiking along the wall was just amazing! It was a beautiful day.  There were times there was congestion in narrow parts and uneven, and difficult. An odd thing experienced, my phone was sticky and I couldn’t figure out why.. until I realized, it was gel packs. EEWW! They were all over the railings, yuck and gross and I hate gel! I did like talking to the volunteers giving out the gels and asking in Chinese if they were delicious? A proud moment of my years of living in China, I can ask if something is delicious.

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The race folks did a nice job of having lots of water stops along the way.

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The Village, Via The Road, The Coming Soon Road and The Lettuce Fields

After you come off the wall you run along the road to get to a village. Yes, you can run at this point! The road is not closed… it is still open so you are running with traffic. Like running of the bulls, China style. Only fearful a few times. Cars would pull over as you were running, folks would take photos of you. It was a little nuts.  Before you get to the village, you go through a future highway under construction and through some farmers fields. Just in case you think you aren’t going the right way, there are signs!

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Finally you get to the quaint village where the locals are just checking out what is going on. Some collecting water bottles and the most fun were the kids! The kids would cheer you on, give high fives, say hello, offer candy, they were super sweet. If to do it again, I would bring candy to give to them! if I was a kid.. I would probably have moved the directional signs and got the runners going the wrong way. Good thing they didn’t.

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Yup a chicken checking out the racers too!

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The Finish!


We did it! It was amazing! So much fun. We finished much quicker than we thought and felt super after. Like really super. Strange as I never felt this way with other 1/2s I have done and those I trained for. I felt broke down in the past and a squat toilet would have killed me.  After the Wall, I could still walk and I used a squatter!  So weird! I credit our “training” through spinning and my weekend hiking in Hawaii and our attitude of we have nothing to prove, just to finish. That is the attitude from now on! I would do an adventure marathon again, it was so fun. I am thinking Bagan… who is with me? The running bug is back!  I will do my 1st full marathon in Hawaii. The HNL Marathon. Medals & malasadas?! I am a sucker for malasadas but it will be hard to beat Jingle Bells.


You might be wondering what is different between the Full Marathon (26.2 miles), Half Marathon (13.1 miles), and the Fun Run (5.5 miles). They all go up the wall first! There is nothing Fun about that Fun Run, it is the hardest part of the whole course. They go up the wall and done. The half goes up the wall and through the village. The Full goes up the wall, through the village, does an extended village run (to get more distance in) and since you are not there yet, goes back up the wall on the return. No thank you. Once was enough and I applaud those folks who did it. You are CRAZY and incredible, jiayou!

Vitamin D Deficiency- The Prescription Vitamin SEA!


One of the first things I did when I moved from China back to the USA after I went to Target, Costco, and Panda Express (Chinese food is not the same in China as it is in America. 1. It doesn’t have bones, 2. it doesn’t have feet or a beak, 3. I will just stop there as I have already posted about my love of Panda Express) was to go to the Dr. Having been to the hospital (you don’t go to see a Dr in China, you go to the hospital. You have a cold you go to the hospital, need the flu shot, the hospital) at an International hospital and not by choice to a local hospital when I got hit by a car (That experience posted here) I wanted to be checked out in a healthcare environment I was familiar with back in the USA. I did have some concerns after 4.5 years in China. Why was I always tired? Was it environmental? Was it the constant city on the go, alway changing, the language, the work, dodging cars, the pushing and spitting, daily overall survival? Was something wrong with me? Was it the pollution (air, food, second hand smoke), or am I just getting old?

I was a little scared to know what may be wrong with me but early detection is key and I can’t go back 4 years ago but I can own now. Off I go! At the Dr. the first thing wrong was I had high blood pressure! Then I thought, could it be because just prior to taking my blood pressure, I was put on the scale? I understand pounds versus KG. I weigh what? Before when they told me a number in KG at the hospital it was 2 digits and make no sense but now it is 3 digits and I know what I weighed before I went to China.  OMG could all MSG and who knows what I have been eating did me in? She took it a little later and it was fine. See it was that damn scale. My suggestion is to take blood pressure first and then make you get on the scale.

I had a bunch of tests done. I am amazed that you can see test results online now and the Dr. can write you notes about them and you can write the Dr. and ask questions. Just amazing the advancements since I have been gone. I LOVE IT.

The only thing that came back was I had a vitamin D deficiency and that is what probably was causing my tired tendencies. It can also be pretty serious. YIKKES! The lack of sunshine in Shanghai I am sure is what caused this. What was the prescription, take Vitamin D supplements and to get some sun. What Dr. tells you to get out in the sunshine? MINE. YESSS! Permission to get out in the sun, with proper sunscreen of course.

My advise to those living in China, take vitamins and vitamin D. Also feel free to come visit.

See you at the beach.

Getting use out of my beach bag!

Getting use out of my beach bag!

Getting some Vitamin D & SEA but those clouds may have another idea

Getting some Vitamin D & SEA but those clouds may interrupt


A palm tree shadow at the beach

Some more photos because you can never see enough photos of the beaches of Hawaii, especially if you are in China!

Some more photos because you can never see enough photos of the beaches of Hawaii, especially if you are in China!

PS. Take vitamin D supplements if you are some where where the sun doesn’t shine regularly, like China or places in the USA where there is winter and gray days for months.

Happy Chinese New Year From The USA!

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year- Xīn nián kuàilè

We celebrated by going to Panda Express a Chinese Food quick service restaurant. The food is very different than food found in China. Which brings me to in China is the food called Chinese food or is just called food because you are in China? Hmm…

Have a great New Year full of much happiness, good fortune, and may all your dreams come true in the year of the goat.

Budweiser Not Only The King of Beer-Wrapped in GOLD!

Budweiser in the US is known as the King of Beers and in China a Super Premium Imported Beer. Does anyone else giggle to think Budweiser in such a way? Budweiser in China is the #3 brand of beer.  Sorry Dad and Papa Blum, Coors Light or the Silver Bullet as it is called in China comes behind Bud. The reason could be because they are not wrapping their beer cans in gold! Look at that. Only the best beer is wrapped in gold!



Shanghai Hipster Shoes!

We walk by a small shoe store (it is the size of a walk in closet) near our apartment and say we need to go in there and buy shoes. We finally did it!  We got original style Feiyue shoes, or as I like to call them Shanghai Hipster shoes or Chinese Chuck Taylor’s.Feiyue Store

Todd likes to copy my good ideas so we have the same shoes. Now isn’t that cute? Good thing one of us is moving.


Interesting enough… these shoes made in Shanghai became popular in 1920… a few years after Converse All Stars…what a coincidence! Learn more about these shoes here Feiyue I didn’t know they are official Monk shoes and of the martial arts. Well now I am all set to take up Kara-Te.

We paid full retail 50RMB ($8 USD) a pair (even for Todd’s monster feet). The packaging is great. They come in a simple, printed paper bag with a Pinocchio like character.  Love the idea of paper bags instead of boxes! That would have been smart back in the day when we had to over textbooks. I got a new pair of shoes for school and I had to cover textbooks! Anyway, a little piece of Shanghai history for our feet.

Wear test. They are pretty comfy, actually I find them more comfy than Chucks. My beef with Chucks is they are too flat and in time make my feet hurt.  The Chinese Chucks have padding on the ball of the foot making them pretty comfy.

Freedom Fries!

Wonder whatever happened to the Freedom fry movement?  I don’t at all, that was stupid in my opinion but they are here in China! Along will some grilled something I had to google meaning oyster mushroom. I bet they would sell more calling them grilled mushrooms. As for grilled swan shell.. no idea but could be a fancy name for duck beak or could be some kind of shelled something from the sea or river.

Freedom Fries

Remote Control Cheat Sheets

Packing for the move from China back to the US (does anyone else hear Final Countdown by Europe? Or is that just in my head?!?) I am coming across some things that made life a little easier in China and they make me smile and giggle. Like my cheat sheets made by putting all the remotes in my apartment on a copy machine and asked a colleague to translate. I do like the translation of  wind direction and wind speed (what some call fan). I really don’t know what I am going to do having electronics in English! I may need to try all the settings just because I can.

I am tossing my cheat sheets. For some freaky reason Todd doesn’t need them. He gets things to work.  A gift of being a nerd I guess with a ridiculous memory for things like remotes. A beautiful mind? No just weird but does come in handy at times. Anyone moving to China and need their remotes read, call Todd.



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